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NEW YORK STATE OF MIND 2012 PART ONE
So I am back from New York Comic Con. I missed 2011 because I was moving and that made money a bit tight that year. What is scary is just how busy it has become since 2010 and the Saturday felt like San Diego Comic Con. It was still a great show and I did loads of interviews (mainly for Comic Heroes) and I managed to catch up with people like Andy Grossberg and Susie Lee, split a room with Bill Baker, hung out with Walter Simonson, Grant Morrison and had dinner with Mike Kaluta. I was going to do a show report here but the fact is that I didn’t get to see any of the panels and the main hall was too busy for me a lot of the time, so I either hid in Artists Alley or avoided the show (which I did do for much of Saturday). So here’s a selection of photos I took of some of the people I encountered or interviewed or saw, even from a distance. This may be a multipart post…

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HEARTFELT

Whisper of The Heart, an animated film written by Hayao Miyazaki but directed by Yoshifumi Kondo, was first released back in 1995. Thanks to Edith at StudioCanal, I got a screener of the film and she was also generous enough to give me three copies to give away. Find out how you can win a copy after my review of the film.
Miyazaki does have a very distinctive style so that even a film that’s not directed by him still has a very unique feel to it. Whisper of The Heart is a teen drama about Shizuku, a young girl living in Tokyo who falls for a boy in her school, Seiji. Their relationship, which begins when she sees his name on all of the library books she takes out, forces her to think about her own life, sending her on a different path. Whisper of The Heart is a sweet teen romance with some of Miyazaki’s classic idiosyncratic touches like cat figure The Baron in the antique shop owned by Seiji’s grandfather, which has a tragic story attached to it, and a dreamlike feel to parts of Tokyo. The animation is very sophisticated and the voice talent is well-chosen as you’d expect from a Studio Ghibli English dubbed film. Whisper of The Heart is perhaps a little less sophisticated than Miyazaki’s more recent efforts but if you’re a fan of him and Ghibli, then this is a Blu-ray that’s worth picking up…
To win a copy of Whisper of The Heart, then just email me at joelmeadows@btinternet.com with your answer to the following question:
Q: Which university did Hayao Miyazaki go to and which course did he complete there?
Closing date is February 28th 2012. I shall pick three random correct answers from three entrants. Good luck…


NO NEED FOR SPEED
The week has been a complete blur because I’ve been working while trying to do more work on the Annual and get ready for Bristol which is now only a week away. Last Sunday I went to a press screening of the Wachowskis’ new film, Speed Racer. To be honest, of all the summer blockbusters, this is one that I was looking forward to the least. Emile Hirsch plays the eponymous Speed, a boy who hero-worships his racing-car driver brother Rex, only to see his brother die in a racing accident. Cut to years later and Speed is now a racer himself and the film follows the machinations of the evil car company tycoon Royalton in his attempts to ensnare Speed and his family into a web of corporate greed and race-fixing. Speed Racer is probably the most garish film I’ve ever seen at the cinema and its Wacky-Races-on-speed production design is enough to give the casual viewer a thumping headache at the end. Speed Racer was never shown over here so unlike, say Battle of The Planets, there is no nostalgia for the Japanese anime series here, and so it could be seen as a strange curio by the UK cinemagoing audience. Of course, if you’re 8 years old, then this film is probably fantastic but it left me wondering what has happened to John Goodman’s career (here as Speed’s dad) and how far the Wachowskis have fallen since the first Matrix. The races are edited so quickly that it’s almost impossible to discern what’s going on and the plot is so corny and stupid that if the visuals don’t appeal, then there’s really nothing left. Emile Hirsch is okay but since he is playing a cartoon character or a video game character, then it’s not like there’s a lot for him to do. In fact Speed Racer looks and feels like a game with the script a late afterthought. Save your money and go and see Iron Man instead, which is a smart, enjoyable genre movie that doesn’t make you nauseous when you leave the cinema…